Monday, 24 September 2018

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ConReviews: The Cosplay Con & Anime Experience

The Cosplay Con & Anime Experience had its debut convention this past weekend for a two-day event on Friday and Saturday. First-year conventions can be a gamble to attend sometimes, but here’s a review of how The Cosplay Con did.

 

 

Day One:

 

Arriving at the venue attendees pull into a small parking lot next to a smaller building than expected for a convention. There wasn’t any signage that I noticed when we arrived, but when we got to the back door a volunteer informed us to walk around to the front to enter. Off in the near distance, you could see the Verizon Arena where day two of the con would be held. That was exciting to see, but disappointing as well knowing we were going to be in the smaller building for the rest of the day.

 

 

Walking in there were a decent amount of people inside. There was enough room for everyone to move around freely. There were certain areas that had choke points where a lot of people gathered around and made movement difficult. There was no apparent schedule for entering the building. The front desk was friendly and quickly got us our badges. The process was quick and smooth. The venue was surprisingly spacious for what it looked like from the outside. The bottom floor had a stage and a small seating area. The second floor was much larger and there were stands that were connected to the stairs in a cool design.

 

 

There was a food truck outside that was selling barbecue. Inside they had a wide variety of popcorn styles. They were also selling Jones Soda which is great if you haven’t tried it. For day one they did great on food.

 

 

There was a welcoming and friendly atmosphere. The congoers and cosplayers were having fun and enjoying the different events that were happening. Conversations were running and it looked like everyone was having a good time, but a band came to play which I don’t think was a good move. Many of the conversations couldn’t be held anymore due to the volume because of the size of the venue. The music was good, but it limited what else you could be doing. Day two when the band performed it was much better.

 

 

Later on, they had karaoke and many of the congoers participated. You had people performing songs from “I Need a Hero” to “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The singers were passionate and the crowd wasn’t too engaging during performances, but there was always a good applause after every performance which encouraged others to give it a shot. This added to the fun and freedom of the event.

 

 

Day Two:

 

Going from day one to day two was a bit shocking. The size difference was enormous. The number of attendees was much higher. There were a ton more vendors with a wide variety of offerings and products. There was a stage and it was in a stadium! There were great cosplays, and the majority of people were cosplaying. You had a great talent in Ciara Renée coming out and doing an interview on the main stage. There were always people sitting and checking out what was happening on the main stage.

 

 

Again though, there was no schedule posted anywhere. This was prevalent and lead to some scheduling conflicts, and people missing events due to lack of knowledge. Some of these problems were small and could have been easily fixed or avoided.

 

 

The Bad:

 

There was a key factor that plagued the con. It was disorganized. This is a common problem for first-year cons. There wasn’t a schedule for the upcoming events posted anywhere. Having it on the website is good, but it is bad to not have the schedule be easily accessible and visible. The main notifications for congoers was the DJ announcing over the loudspeaker. If you weren’t listening then too bad, you might have missed something you wanted to attend or might’ve needed to hear.

 

The Very Bad:

 

While we did enjoy being a part of this first (and possibly only) year convention, a lot of rumors started developing in the later portion of the convention. The Verizon Arena and convention setup made The Cosplay Con look like it was expecting an attendance size of over 5,000. We noticed upon arriving that the convention space was made to fit several thousands of people, but the feel of the convention was less than a thousand midway through the convention. By 7 pm, the convention was almost dead and people started complaining, including vendors. When it came time to pay off debts and other obligations, apparently, the convention chairman was nowhere to be found. This included ‘dealer bucks’ that was promised to be exchanged for cash to vendors, prizes for the Cosplay Contest, and even food truck payments.

 

 

By the time the convention was over, a lot of people felt ’scammed’ and took their complaints/ concerns straight to social media (mostly Facebook.) The Cosplay Con‘s group page was slandered with unhappy comments about the convention, from con-goers to vendors, to even staff members; all upset at the con-chair, Malcolm. The group page went from 4 stars to less than 2, almost overnight. Apparently, the Con-chair made promises he couldn’t keep and is so far in the negative, that he took off with what little money was made. As of today, people still cannot get in contact with him and some state he has been spotted in a whole different state.

 

 

We have not heard this many complaints or seen this many upset people at a first-year convention since Dashcon. Several people are looking into forming a Class Action lawsuit against the Con-chair responsible for this, including his own investors who trusted him with their money. Though we don’t believe this was the intention in the planning stage of the convention, it’s never a good idea for a first year to expect over 5,000 attendees, especially in a state like Arkansas. We hope new conventions learn from mistakes like this and plan their first year for less than a thousand attendees. Worst case, the convention is over-crowded and a bigger venue will be needed for the following year.

 

 

Overall.

 

It was an acceptable first day of the convention but took a quick turn for the worst by day two. From what I saw, it looked like most attendees were having a good time up until the unfortunate details started spreading. I would’ve loved to have seen a second year with this convention, but with everything that’s happened, I don’t see that being a possibility. Did you attend Cosplay Con? Give us your thoughts in the comments!

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